Helping Your Child to Go
Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, and if your little one is often constipated, he might not be getting enough fiber or liquid in his diet. Don’t expect him to suddenly change his eating preferences, but with a little encouragement and some creative food ideas, you can help your child get the nutrition he needs to ease constipation and develop a healthy poop pattern.
Increasing the amount of water your toddler drinks can help him use the toilet regularly, but some kids just don’t like to drink water. Try diluting 100 percent fruit juice with water and offering it to your toddler frequently. Start by adding just a little water to the juice. As your child becomes accustomed to the taste, gradually dilute the juice more and more until your toddler is drinking a mixture that contains at least one-half water.
Flavorful Fiber from Fruits
Fiber plays an important role in a child’s digestive system. It absorbs fluids and keeps poop soft so the child doesn’t strain on the potty. Most toddlers will eat some types of fruit. Offer bite-size bits of pears, peaches, apples, grapes, apricots and strawberries. Skip bananas, which can actually contribute to constipation. When you’re on the go, fill a snack-size plastic bag with dried fruits, such as apricots, dates and raisins that your toddler can eat anytime hunger strikes.
Increase your toddler's fiber intake by adding fiber to foods your child already likes. Blend stewed dried fruit or a tablespoon of wheat germ into smoothies, cook grated carrots and bell peppers in meatloaf and add grated apples to cold or hot cereal.
Vegetables to the Rescue
Vegetables are another good source of fiber, but toddlers regularly shun them. The trick is to offer kid-friendly veggies that your toddler can eat without your help. Baby carrots and broccoli florets, cooked semisoft, become favorite finger foods when dipped in flavorful salad dressing. Frozen peas are cool in the mouth and provide good tasting fiber for preventing constipation.
Beans and Grains
Both beans and whole grains contain high amounts of helpful fiber. Opt for whole grain pasta and brown rice instead of white varieties; once you cover the pasta with tomato sauce, your toddler will not notice the difference. Begin to introduce beans as a fun, finger food, or mash them and serve them on your toddler's favorite toast or crackers. Use plain hummus, made from chickpeas, as a dip for the same crackers or for carrot and celery sticks.
What Not to Feed
In addition to offering liquids and high fiber foods, cut back on foods that might be causing the problem. Restrict your toddler’s consumption of cheese and peanut butter. Cookies, fast food and over-processed packaged foods, can trigger constipation. Cow’s milk might be part of the problem, so cut back your child’s milk intake and see if that helps.